The NFL is moving snaps for extra-point kicks back to the 15-yard line this year, meaning the distance will increase from 20 to roughly 33 yards. That's a huge difference in distance, and one would presume that means it has the potential to dramatically alter a mundane play.
Over the past decade, kickers have made 91.6 percent of field-goal attempts from 32 or 33 yards. Considering the current conversion rate for extra points is better than 99 percent, that sounds pretty dramatic.
Last year, for instance, kickers made 1,222 of 1,230 extra points (only eight misses, a 99.34 percent success rate). Making only 91.6 percent of those would have meant more than 100 missed attempts — a ton by comparison.
But a deeper look inside the numbers shows the impact likely won't be nearly that large. For starters, going back a full decade for that 91.6 figure is too far. Kicking improves on seemingly a yearly basis; for example, the Vikings' kicker a decade ago was Paul Edinger, who somehow made only three of eight attempts from 30 to 39 yards in 2005.
Field Yates of ESPN noted that kickers in 2014 went 163 for 171 (95.3 percent) on kicks between 30 and 35 yards. So that takes some bite out of the change … and there's more.
Since extra points will be from the middle of the field instead of either hash mark, this nugget from Nathan Jahnke of Pro Football Focus is useful: in 2013 and 2014, NFL kickers made 97.6 percent of kicks from 30 to 35 yards that were in the center of the field.
Benjamin Morris of fivethirtyeight.com has a statistical model which says that rate should climb to 98 percent over the next 10 years.
Let's say next season, in the first year of the new extra-point distance, kickers make 97 percent. That would mean they missed 37 times — or 29 more misses than last season. So most teams would miss one per season, and a few would miss two.
It would basically be going back a generation; kickers in 1985 missed 37 extra points as well. But do you remember watching games 30 years ago and worrying that kickers were going to miss extra points? I don't.
That said, I'm not a kicker. The pressure of making a 33-yarder (which at least doesn't feel automatic) compared to a 20-yarder could be different, and if a team needs an extra point late to go ahead or tie, it could test a kicker's nerves in a different way.
But as far as tempting more coaches to go for a two-point conversion (still snapped from the 2-yard line) or games turning on missed extra points (Sportsonearth.com tracked NFL games in 2013 and found the average margin of victory was 11 points), it might happen a little more often but not as much as you might guess.